SRI Security Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
It is uncertain how many discreet users occupy the social media community. Fake tweets, sock puppets, force‐multipliers and botnets have become embedded within the fabric of new media in sufficient numbers that social media support by means of quantity is no longer a reliable metric for determining authority and influence within openly expressed issues and causes. Election campaigns, and their associated political agendas, can now be influenced by non‐specific virtual presences that cajole and redirect opinions without declaring identity or allegiance. In the lead up to the 2013 Australian Federal Election, the open source Twitter activity for the two major party leaders was examined in order to establish patterns of information diffusion. The results showed fake online personas, fake bots deploying automated Twitter dissemination, and deceptive Twitter strategies. New media tolerates slacktivism, where Twitter users mistake auto‐narrative for genuine political sentiment. This study demonstrates the need to increase legitimacy and validity in micro‐blogging forms of new media.